It’s no surprise that the construction industry is inherently higher risk than other industries. The construction industry has the highest rate of incidences of workplace injury compared to other industries covered by OSHA regulations. According to OSHA, around 20% of all worker fatalities in 2019 were in construction, by far the highest percentage of any industry.
Many construction companies are aware of these issues as well as the high incidence rates in their industry, and are working to take proactive steps to deliver meaningful change, both in terms of technology and in practice for a safer workplace. Here are the top three workplace safety trends that we’re noticing for 2023 and beyond.
1. Mental health is becoming more topical and less taboo
A major trend happening in construction is the acknowledgement that physical safety isn’t the only priority and many companies are starting to put a greater focus on mental health. Mental health challenges and suicide are far more commonplace in the industry, especially for male construction workers, who face a suicide rate of 45.3 per 100,000 — significantly higher than the national average of 13.5 per 100,000.
Some construction companies are attempting to address this problem head on by breaking down the cultural stigmas attached to mental health in the industry and creating open discussions and dialogues regarding mental health challenges. This includes initiatives that encourage people to share their experiences and training sessions to better equip them to support both their own and other’s mental well-being.
2. Personal protective equipment is here to stay
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many construction professionals to invest in personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their workers from disease. This marked a cultural shift which is likely to be a permanent transition, with an emphasis on PPE set to be a continuing feature for many construction companies. The market for PPE (including such as gloves, eyewear, dust masks, and ear plugs) is set to grow by 7.3% by 2028, partly fueled by demand from construction.
3. More intensive training practices are becoming commonplace
OSHA is looking to hire more staff to increase inspections while simultaneously increasing the penalties for a failed inspection, making safety an even higher priority for construction professionals. One of the ways that organizations are ensuring that they remain OSHA compliant is by hosting more frequent training sessions for both experienced and inexperienced workers.
It is critical that safety training is done at all levels of the organization, not just for newer workers. While they might need the baseline knowledge to stay out of danger, it’s imperative that organizations remind their veteran employees of safety standards as they may be more willing to take shortcuts in the name of expediency.
When reviewing employee training, organizations should focus on such topics as:
- Working from heights, including ladder safety which is often overlooked
- Safe driving habits which affect every organization and employee
- Safe handling of chemicals
- Proper tools and machinery handling
- Having a proper safety mindset
OSHA and other organizations offer a wide range of virtual training sessions – enabling construction firms to easily ensure their employees are up to standard and helping to stay compliant with OSHA’s strict regulations.
As an addition to training practice, the use of micro-trainings that leverage workers’ access to cell phones for short but regular safety reminders on critical safety topics is increasing the efficiency of employer training efforts and becoming more commonplace. New training methods often address different well-established learning techniques, and include numerous languages to ensure all employees are properly educated on the job hazards and safety. The days of multi-hour training sessions are quickly being replaced with daily five-minute safety bulletins and virtual toolbox talk sessions, tracking utilization and testing for safety competency.
Download our full report for more on the technology and safety practice trends construction companies are putting in place today.